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Archive for the ‘Roman Catholic Church’ Category

The Delany Archive stores the archival collections of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, the Patrician Brothers, Brigidine Sisters and Carlow College. The Roman Catholic parish of Paulstown is in the Kildare and Leighlin diocese. A few months ago they put pictures of the Brigidine Convent in Paulstown on their Flickr stream. You can view them here.

You can read about the history of the Brigidine Convent in Paulstown in my first post about the convent.

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The genealogy website From-Ireland.net, run by Dr. Jane Lyons, has a database of transcribed information from cemeteries in Kilkenny and Laois. Click here and type ‘Paulstown’ in the ‘Search Grave Records’ search box. In total there are over 300 records.

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Findagrave.com is one of the main sites to go to for headstone information. An entry from Incarnate Word Cemetery in Missouri, USA has a lot of information from an obituary for Sr. Amabilis O’Byrne, who was born in Paulstown. It states she was 98 when she died in 1988, giving a year of birth of c.1890. Click here to read the entry.

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There has been female religious community in continuous existence in Paulstown since the 1830s. In this decade Rose Bolger of Acore and Peggy Carroll of Castlehill built a house and small shop on land owned by the Church and the bishop at the time, the famous Dr. James Doyle, permitted them to have The Blessed Sacrament in an upstairs oratory.[1]

For the next forty years those in the house sold good in the shop, made clothes, and looked after the sick and needy of the parish. They were also involved in teaching the girls of the village before and after the establishment of the girls’ national school in 1839.[2]

In 1845 the Congregation of St. Brigid received the approbation of Rome. The Mother House was located in Tullow, Co. Carlow.[3] In 1858 the Mother House founded a convent in Goresbridge with a local man, who had a niece in the Tullow congregation, financing it.[4]  From there a branch house was established in Paulstown in 1874[5] or 1875.[6]

The current Brigidine Convent building is located on the Waterford road, between the Kilkenny/Dublin road junction and the Goresbridge /Waterford crossroads. The foundation stone for the building was laid on 8 September 1928.[7] An image of the convent from 1932 is located in this pdf document on page 6. It also contains an undated photograph of nuns from the Paulstown and Goresbridge communities.


[1] Paulstown Education and Historical Society (2007) Paulstown School Past and Present Paulstown, Kilkenny: Grange Silvia Publications, p.29

[2] Ibid. p.29

[3] Author Unknown, Brigidines Celebrate 200 Years in The Breastplate, Match 2007 p.6; pratricianbrothers.com http://www.patricianbrothers.com/patwebsite/newsletterhome/australianewsletter/breastplate07/marbreastplate07.pdf : accessed 18 July 2011

[4] Brigidine Sisters. 2010. Spread of the Congregation, http://www.brigidine.org.au/about-us/index.cfm?loadref=15accessed accessed 10 January 2012

[5] Ibid.

[6] Author Unknown, Brigidines Celebrate 200 Years in The Breastplate, Match 2007 p.6; http://www.patricianbrothers.com/patwebsite/newsletterhome/australianewsletter/breastplate07/marbreastplate07.pdf : accessed 18 July 2011

[7] Paulstown Education and Historical Society (2007) Paulstown School Past and Present Paulstown, Kilkenny: Grange Silvia Publications, p.31

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A recent article in the Irish Times highlighted one Kilkenny man’s quest to photograph all parochial houses in Ireland. The parochial house in Paulstown is included and can be viewed on this page. The house was the residence of the parish priest up to the late 1990s when it was purchased by the Barrett family. The parish priest now lives in a residence in Goresbridge village.

Currently, I am unaware of when the house was built. An aerial photo of the village, from the beginning of the 1900s, shows that it was built by this stage.[1] Likewise it appears on the OSI maps from the late 19th century and early 20th century.


[1] Paulstown Education and Historical Society (2007) Paulstown School Past and Present Paulstown, Kilkenny: Grange Silvia Publications. p.15

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Cardinal Paul Cullen is one of the giants of Irish Catholic Church history. He was the first Irishman to be made a Cardinal and created the concept of papal infallibility. Cardinal Cullen was born in Prospect, Kildare most likely on 29 April 1803[1] and has a link to Paulstown through one of his grandparents.

Cardinal Cullen’s mother was a woman by the name of Mary Maher.[2] While the Maher name has been evident in records concerning Paulstown for hundreds of years this is not where the link is. Mary Maher’s parents were Patrick Maher and Catherine Moore.[3] Catherine Moore, Cardinal Cullen’s maternal grandmother, was born in Paulstown.[4]

She has been described as “full of the ardour of true piety, and of that devotional zeal for which the faithful of Kilkenny have been at all times so remarkable”.[5] As well as this it seems that Catherine Moore Maher was not easily scared or intimidated.

A story is told by Patrick Francis Moran, bishop of Ossory in the 1870s, where her son-in-law, Hugh Cullen (father of Cardinal Cullen) was made a prisoner and charged with aiding the 1798 rebels. Cullen was being transported and was denied the opportunity to have food or water. Catherine Moore Maher, ignoring the armed guards escorting Cullen, got up on the chaise he was being transported in, handed him a bottle of wine and said “cheer up my son, God will soon send you back victorious to us”.[6]

It is always worth noting that Moore’s birth information is taken from a secondary historical source which, unfortunately, does not reference any Church or civil record. As any good genealogist knows, primary sources are always preferable.


[1] Three different dates of birth are given in various publications. See p.208 of O’Carroll’s 2008 publication Paul Cardinal Cullen for more details.

[2] MacSuibhne, Peadar. 1955. The Early Cullen Family in Reportorium Novum: Dublin Diocesan Historical Record. Vol 1. No. 2 p. 192.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Moran, Patrick Francis. 1877. The Letters of Rev. James Maher, D.D., Dublin: Browne and Nolan p.iii

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. p.iii-iv

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An interesting article that looked at the number of children born to unmarried mothers in various parishes in 18th and 19th century Ireland appeared in a 1979 edition of Irish Economic and Social History.[1] One of the parishes selected for the study was Paulstown and Goresbridge. While the overall numbers of ‘illegitimate’ births, as they were called, was very small, there was a gradual increase from 1.1% in the 1821-1830 period to 2.4% in the 1841-1850 period. Possible reasons for this increase could include an actual increase in births to unmarried mothers or decreasing social stigma when it came to recording births as outside of marriage. It also must be remembered that there could be a correlation between the higher rate of births outside of marriage and the occurrence of The Famine in the 1841-1850 period.

Years: 1821-1830 / Births: 896 / Illegitimate: 10 / Percentage: 1.1

Years: 1831-1840 / Births: 2,023 / Illegitimate: 43 / Percentage: 2.1

Years: 1841-1850 / Births: 966 / Illegitimate: 23 / Percentage: 2.4


[1][1] Connolly, S.J. 1979. Illegitimacy and Pre-Nuptial Pregnancy in Ireland Before 1864: The Evidence of Some Catholic Parish Registers in Irish Economic and Social History, Vol 6, pp.9-24

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